DURING THE SECOND HALF OF THE 19TH CENTURY, BUENOS AIRES WITNESSED A HUGE IMMIGRATION GULF, INCREASING THE POPULATION FROM 180,000 TO 1,5 MILLION WITHIN 4 DECADES. THE NEW ARGENTINE GENERATION CAME FROM EVERY CORNER IN THE WORLD AND CREATED A METLING POT OF CULTURES AND EACH BORROWED EXPRESSIONS AND HABITS FROM ONE ANOTHER. IT IS IN THIS PERIOD OF ARGENTINE HISTORY THAT THE FIRST TANGO WAS DANCED.
Many of Buenos Aires immigrants were young single men, hoping to find fortune in this new world. Their desperate strive to make enough money to return to Europe a wealthy man, or bring their families to their new home, reflects in the evolution of the tango. The dance that was born in the poor barrio’s of the fast growing city and danced by hopeful native young men, dressed in slough hats and high heeled boots with knives tucked casually in their belts, soon became the companion of the new compadritos, who introduced the tango in the Corrales Viejos – the slaughterhouse district – and danced it in the poorest of bars and brothels.
Even though the melancholic and nostalgic movements of the tango was proprietary to the poor, it was only a matter of time before the flamboyant sons of the porteño oligarchy found out about the dance culture and soon it was introduced in the high society, where the tango became as popular as in the lower social regions. As fast as Buenos Aires grew from a provincial town into a metropolis, the tango found its way through the social levels of the fast expanding city, crossed the Rio de la Plata to Uruguay and started its journey into the rest of the world.
37 years ago, Gastohn Barrios saw the first light of day in Buenos Aires. He grew up to become a handsome young man and ended up in the world of art and photography, posing for many renowned photographers. Passionate about his work, Gastohn soon explored a larger territory and like the famous dance born in the streets of his city, Gastohn moved away from Buenos Aires to try his luck elsewhere. He lived in the United States, in Chili, in Spain and finally ended up in Brazil, where he eventually moved his activities from in front to behind the camera. In 2008, Gastohn Barrios returned to his geographic roots and settles once again in Buenos Aires, the city of his origin, where he continued to perfection his photographic skills.
Like the tango, Gastohn Barrios photographs are enchanting and alluring. Hypnotic. Having experience as a model himself, he pours all his knowledge and talent in his visual art, making his portraits as inseperable and etangled with him as the dramatic dance is with the Argentine culture. It is easy to find an escape in the sensuality of Gastohn’s work, his models as beautiful and tragic as those melancholic young porteños from so long ago, who lost themselves in the spellbinding rhythm of colgada’s, calesita’s and mordida’s. Born in Buenos Aires, Gastohn Barrios follows the path of his visual tango, by expressing himself through his work which, like the famous dance, soon will conquer the rest of the world. –BM-
GASTOHN BARRIOS | BEAUTIFULMAG